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Removing ceramic tile

Posted: 27 Mar 2013 10:17 PM By: tbonert Replies: 4

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  • Removing ceramic tile


    My wife and I are in the planning stage of re-tiling our kitchen/entryway and upstairs bathroom.  The flooring now is ceramic tile laid over cement board (the house is 15 years old).  A) how horrible is it going to be to remove the tile?  B) Does the cement board have to be removed too?  Assuming the cement board is mortared and screwed down, is it nearly impossible to take up?  

    My neighbor and I are both looking at taking on the same projects soon, and don't want to pay the thousands of dollars required to hire the project out.

    Thanks in advance!

  • Re: Removing ceramic tile

    Are you wanting to save the tiles.?

  • Re: Removing ceramic tile

    Nope....the tiles are gonna go.  Most likely we'll do hardwood in the kitchen, tile in the entryway, and bathroom.  Right now the bathroom has maroon tile.  It's pretty awesome.  Thanks!


  • Re: Removing ceramic tile

    Since you mentioned that the tiles are laid out over a cement board, you might be able to pry the tiles away using a chisel and a hammer. Or even better, you can take the cement boards away, using the same method and it will save the tiles. But because you are thinking about re-tiling, the second option might not be such a great idea. Also, it will take you more work as you said that the cement boards are mortared and screwed.

    So I'll suggest you go with the first one.

    Start with one edge or a line of tiles, from where they begin (at the doorway, maybe) or from where you plan to take them away. You might have to break a few tiles first using a hammer.

    Next, take the chisel and loosen the tiles by breaking the grout. Stick the chisel underneath the tile and tap it with the hammer until it comes off.

    You can find more detailed guides online, even videos of how to do it.

    But whatever you do, be safe. 

  • Re: Removing ceramic tile


    This is doable but hard and messy work. There is not an easy way to separate the tile from the cement board. It has to come out together. You need to cut through the tile and cement board with a masonry blade on a circular saw or cut off saw.  Make 2' x 2' relief cuts along the grout lines, then pry up the cement board with a 4' pry bar, It will take some muscle if the board is screwed down, less so if nailed.

    Make sure you seal off the work area since cutting up the tile throw lots of cement dust. Wear PPE (eye glasses, respirator and gloves). You can have a helper run a shop vac and suck up the dust while you cut to reduce it.

    Your sub floor may take a beating in the process. Be prepared to replace it if needed.  

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